Friday, December 07, 2018

Backlash Likely

On Thursday, Steve M. contemplated the political strategy in which Elizabeth Warren took a DNA test when President Trump ridiculed the Massachusetts senator for claiming that she had a Cherokee ancestor. One commenter sympathetic to Warren remarked "only White Males with an R are 'pure enough' to be beyond attack."

Evidently, that is accurate because it has now come to Kevin Hart. And coincidentally, Elizabeth Warren is among the numerous individuals eligible to pay the price. Esquire reports

Just days after being announced as the host of the upcoming 91st Academy Awards, Kevin Hart has stepped down from his position.

The move was prompted by fury that erupted following the announcement over anti-gay tweets the star had posted years ago—some of them preserved in infamy forever via screen shots, some still living on his account—as well as homophobic jokes that were included in earlier stand-up sets. (Hart has maintained that the bit was a satire of his own heterosexuality, and stopped performing it a decade ago.) He has defended the jokes for years.

When backlash began, Hart posted a video to his Instagram account saying he had evolved—and that he wasn't sorry. “Guys, I’m almost 40 years old,” he said. “If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify or explain the past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man. I’m in a great place. A great mature place where all I do is spread positivity.”

He would not apologize, he added in a subsequent video, despite the producers asking him to do so, because he had already addressed those remarks "several times." He would not, he said, feed the internet trolls.

Exactly right. It's unlikely that all Hart does is spread "positivity." He is, after all, a comedian and most contemporary comedians excel at sarcasm, snark, and negativity, much of it deserved. The Academy must have realized that when it appointed him.

Hart does, however, try to avoid controversy and there has been no indication that such "homophobia" is a part of his current act nor that he has made similar remarks recently. These posts were posted in 2010 and 2011- at least seven years ago. However, as Esquire continues

Hours later, the 39-year-old actor-comedian's tone had changed drastically. "I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past," he wrote on Twitter, announcing that he is stepping down as host of the Oscars.

He issued a second apology via a follow-up tweet: "I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."

If one is to apologize, whether half-heartedly or enthusiastically, the time to do it is promptly. If it comes only after a backlash- such as losing an Oscars gig- it comes off as insincere.  Issued belatedly, the apology also appears self-serving, though if issued after retaliation (as Hart's was), it is less likely to be self-serving because the damage already has been done.

Additionally, though, there is a portion of the public which suffers from apology fatigue and/or sensitivity fatigue.  For every individual whose respect for someone such as Hart is restored following an apology, there is one- or likely, more- viewing it as unnecessary, weak, or even pathetic.

In his third tweet after removal, Hart stated in part "Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."

You have just been kicked to the curb, your rear end still smarting from landing hard on the pavement- and you express your love and hope that you "can meet again?" Fourteen years later before Donald J. Trump would ride the principle to the presidency, Bill Clinton recognized "When people are insecure,they'd rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who's weak and right."

Yet, Kevin Hart whines "I hope we can meet again."

Worse yet, someone has again been penalized for what conservatives- and most Americans- believe is regrettable "political correctness."  Hart was not penalized for something he did, nor for being offensive last week. It was for tweets of 2010 and 2011, back when President Barack Obama, a liberal icon, still opposed same-sex marriage. (Obama said he was "evolving;" Hart also says that about himself. One of them was given a pass.)

Worse yet, if this fetish for tolerance, viewed by most Americans as intolerance, continues apace, someone will pay. It will not be in the workplace nor in the public square, where good manners prevail. It will be, as it was in November of 2016, at the ballot box. Justifiably or otherwise, voters will hold responsible one of the political parties, and it won't be the Republican.

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